Monday, December 30, 2013

Are outlines necessary?

Some authors are so organized that it baffles me. They sit down to write, and they have these amazing outlines and plans about how they want their story to go. And that's almost exactly how the final novel turns out. It's amazing to me when authors write like that.

Mostly because I can't.

I tried doing outlines for my novels before, and it absolutely drove me crazy. I hated it. I felt so boxed in that it wasn't funny. Once I put those plans to paper, I felt like I had to stick with what I wrote. I got it in my head that I couldn't deviate from that plan at all. Outlines made me so frustrated that I would quickly get depressed about a story and just stop writing it, even though it was still telling itself in my head. The characters would be screaming that this is going to happen, and I would answer back through clenched teeth, "It can't because it isn't in the plan."

Maybe I hate outlines so much because I had to do so many in high school. For everything. Literature and grammar classes. History. Even science courses. I despised outlines by the time I hit university. So I just don't do them anymore. Instead, I do pre-plans.

For me, a pre-plan lays out the basic background of each character who is important to the story (appearance, personality, likes and dislikes, etc.), facts about the world they live in, and the main plot points that I have in mind. I've stopped trying to microplan everything about my novel. I set out the major destinations, but I let the characters set the journey.

For some writers, the outline is a necessity. For others, it's a tool that's useful but not required. But for me, it's the spawn of Satan that I avoid at any and all costs.

But a pre-plan... I can work with that.

(By the way, come back in a couple days for my post about my observations of the four types of authors. And I'll tell you which kind I am.)

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Edited by - Stephanie King